Believe it or not, but there are only ten more days left in August, and nine more games until active rosters expand in September, from 26 to 28 players.
The limit on pitchers increase next month from 13 to 14 arms, so we know the Dodgers will add an arm. With a number of pitchers still on the injured list but working their way back, let’s take a look at the ones closest to returning.
For one, Brusdar Graterol is expected to be activated before Monday’s game after missing six weeks with shoulder inflammation, possibly at the expense of Ryan Pepiot, who served as the sixth starter the last time through the rotation and started on Sunday.
As for the others, let’s look at Sunday’s injury report from Sarah Wexler at MLB.com, as well as manager Dave Roberts’ pregame interview before the finale against the Marlins, as shown on SportsNet LA.
Clayton Kershaw threw a bullpen session Friday, and is expected to throw another bullpen session early this week. After that comes a simulated game of 3-4 innings and, if all goes well, activation after that. But no rehab assignment.
“It’s only been a little over two weeks,” Roberts said Sunday of Kershaw, who last pitched in a game on August 4. “At that point in time when he potentially would go out [on assignment], it’s like two and a half weeks so it doesn’t make as much sense.”
Blake Treinen pitched a scoreless inning with three strikeouts on Sunday, his third game on a rehab assignment for Triple-A Oklahoma City, and has been out since April with shoulder inflammation. Roberts said Sunday that the plan is for Treinen to be activated on September 2, which is the start of a homestand and a weekend series at home against the Padres.
Those are the three pitchers closest to returning. Yency Almonte, working his way back from elbow tightness, hasn’t yet thrown off a mound, and would be later in September. Victor González is in Triple-A, and Danny Duffy is in the Arizona Complex League, but both have been out so long that their returns are still very much up in the air.
But adding even three pitchers means some decisions will have to be made around the start of September, including a corresponding 40-man roster move to activate Treinen from the 60-day injured list.
With Dustin May now back, do the Dodgers use a six-man rotation down the stretch to both keep starters fresh and give them extra rest?
With May and Kershaw active, that leaves room for eight more pitchers on September’s active roster. Treinen, Evan Phillips, Chris Martin, and Graterol aren’t going anywhere. Neither is Craig Kimbrel, despite what my Twitter mentions might think. That leaves three spots, with Alex Vesia and Caleb Ferguson the left-handers pitching in the highest-leverage situations for now.
That means one of David Price and Phil Bickford goes away, and Bickford is the only one with options (though both Ferguson and Vesia also have options, if it comes to that). And that’s before considering if any of the other pitchers return, too. If that happens, call it a good problem to have.
Ten days in advance might be too soon to worry about such things, as these things tend to sort themselves out. But with a handful of pitchers due back reasonably soon, some moves are coming.